Ahimsa - the theme not only for the month of October but also for yoga-inspired living in general. Ahimsa, translating to non-violence, is the first of the five Yamas (moral obligations towards the external) forming the first limb of Astanga Yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
According to Patanjali, Ahimsa is not causing pain in any form. He highlights the fact that even by your words, even by your thoughts, you can cause pain.
"In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease."
According to Patanjali, a person practicing Ahimsa continuously in thought, word and deed emits harmonious vibrations, and in his presence, all enmity ceases.
So as we understand from Patanjali's definition of Ahimsa, it's not only our words and actions that shouldn't cause pain, but also our thoughts - both in relation to others and to ourselves.
AHIMSA IN ASANA PRACTICE
The way yoga is presented in the modern-life society of the west is usually performance-focused and celebrates, often very photogenic and advanced, peak postures. Yoga is a spiritual practice and asana (postural practice) forms only a part of it. In fact, asana is supposed to be a preparation for meditation, which underlines the fact that the mastery of a pose is not the final goal but rather the beginning of a journey inwards.
Yoga asana is a tool to connect with your body, its needs and desires. Exercising Ahimsa in your asana practice is very important not only to avoid injuries but also to connect with your body on a deeper level and to learn to recognize the signals it's giving you.
Listen to your body. "How does a certain movement feel in the body?" "How am I feeling right now, physically and emotionally?"
Don't be afraid to adjust your practice to your current state, even if you have to take a "step back". Please remember, that no progress is linear and sometimes in order to go up, we have to fall down. What might often feel like a setback is there for a reason. It tells us to slow down, recover and ground to rise again and even higher.
And lastly, know that, just like the water element, we are fluid and ever-changing beings. What felt good in your body yesterday might not feel great today and vice versa.
"Honour yourself for what you can do as opposed to berating yourself for what you can't do."
Don't worry if the practice of non-violence doesn't come to you naturally all the time. Know that you're doing your best and honour the fact that it's a journey where each step counts.
Slowly but surely accept yourself, honour yourself just the way you are today, and become your own best friend.
You most likely wouldn't hurt your best friend, so why hurt yourself?